Bids have opened for an eight-figure pot of government cash to boost delivery of level 4 and 5 higher technical qualifications.
The Department for Education today opened the applications for the £32 million Higher Technical Education Skills Injection Fund, which is to be used for investing in equipment and resources for providers delivering approved higher technical courses.
But bidders must predict the number of learners they expect in their applications for the cash, and risk clawbacks if they don’t hit 80 per cent of those numbers.
The DfE said the aim of the fund is to “create additional capacity to grow and deliver high quality level 4/5 provision and HTQs”.
The funding will be used for newly approved occupational routes in digital; construction; and health and science for September 2023 or January 2024 delivery.
An ‘early adopter’ opportunity to apply for funding to support higher technical qualification routes in business and administration; education and childcare; engineering and manufacturing; and legal, finance and accounting, which are earmarked for September 2024 or January 2025 delivery, is also available.
The pot is made up of £22 million for capital costs such as specialist equipment, perpetual software licenses and refurbishing existing facilities. The cash cannot be used for constructing new buildings though.
The remaining £10 million of the fund is for resources such as upskilling technician staff, curriculum planning, or learner recruitment events.
The DfE said the fund is open to further and higher education establishments, independent training providers and existing Institutes of Technology.
Providers with an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating and those not registered with the Office for Students will not be able to make a bid.
The formula for grants will be based on predicated learner numbers, with funding capped at £5,000 per learner, but the DfE stressed the final amounts will be based on the number of successful applications.
It said there were no minimum learner numbers, but did expect a “viable cohort”, and warned that funding clawbacks could be used where providers failed to reach 80 per cent of their predicted numbers.
In addition, Institutes of Technology can benefit from a 10 per cent uplift in funding, while some providers in designated Local Skills Areas – places where skills-based interventions are taking place as part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda – can secure a 5 per cent uplift.
Applications must be submitted by the end of October 5 and include details of predicted learner numbers and spending plans. Funding allocations are set to be confirmed in late November or December.
Monitoring and evaluation returns are also among the conditions of funding.
The DfE said: “The government is committed to growing high quality Level 4/5 provision to help raise productivity and unlock potential. This is a key part of the post-18 skills system reforms given the skills shortages and employer demand. Growing high quality Level 4/5 provision includes increasing uptake of higher technical qualifications.
“In the government response to the higher technical education consultation (July 2020), the Department for Education set out the government’s plans to make higher technical education a more popular and prestigious choice that provides the skills employers need. The reforms include a new national approval scheme to identify HTQs that meet employers’ skills needs, improving the quality of higher technical education, and encouraging more people to take higher technical education courses.”
It added that it wants to “ensure that, over time, HTQs are established as a flagship offer at Level 4/5”.
The full conditions of the pot are available on the government website here.